CREDIT CARDSCREDIT CARDSMARRIOTT BONVOY BRILLIANT REVIEW: LUXURIOUS BENEFITS, PRICE TAG TO MATCH

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Review: Luxurious Benefits, Price Tag to Match

You'll get a massive welcome offer, solid rewards, multiple statement credits, elite status, lounge access and more, in exchange for a $650 annual fee. Terms apply.
Sara Rathner Author Avatar
Feb 29, 2024 11:06 a.m. PST
Edited by
Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

4.0

NerdWallet rating
The bottom line:

The card’s perks help offset its large annual fee, but only if you use them. Frequent travelers who are loyal to Marriott Bonvoy will benefit most.

Pros
  • Anniversary perk
  • High rewards rate
  • Automatic elite status
  • Luxury perks
Cons
  • High annual fee
  • Rewards have limited flexibility
  • Lower acceptance abroad
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card Image
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card
Annual Fee

$650

Regular APR

20.99%-29.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Rec. credit score


Annual Fee

$650

Regular APR

20.99%-29.99% Variable APR

  • Annual fee

    $650

  • Rewards rate

    2x-6x

  • Bonus offer

    Earn 185,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

  • Intro APR

    N/A

  • Ongoing APR

    APR: 20.99%-29.99% Variable APR

    Cash Advance APR: 29.99%, Variable

    Penalty APR: 29.99%, Variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    N/A

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

More details from American Express
View Rates and Fees
  • Earn 185,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • $300 Brilliant Dining Credit: Each calendar year, get up to $300 (up to $25 per month) in statement credits for eligible purchases made on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card at restaurants worldwide.
  • With Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite status, you can receive room upgrades, including enhanced views or suites, when available at select properties and booked with a Qualifying Rate.
  • Earn 6X Marriott Bonvoy points for each dollar of eligible purchases at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. 3X points at restaurants worldwide and on flights booked directly with airlines. 2X points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Free Night Award: Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Each calendar year after spending $60,000 on eligible purchases on your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card, you will be eligible to select a Brilliant Earned Choice Award benefit. You can only earn one Earned Choice Award per calendar year. See https://www.choice-benefit.marriott.com/brilliant for Award options.
  • $100 Marriott Bonvoy Property Credit: Enjoy your stay. Receive up to a $100 property credit for qualifying charges at The Ritz-Carlton® or St. Regis® when you book direct using a special rate for a two-night minimum stay using your Card.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®: Receive either a statement credit every 4 years after you apply for Global Entry ($100) or a statement credit every 4.5 years after you apply for a five-year membership for TSA PreCheck® (up to $85 through a TSA PreCheck official enrollment provider) and pay the application fee with your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Each calendar year with your Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card you can receive 25 Elite Night Credits toward the next level of Marriott Bonvoy® Elite status. Limitations apply per Marriott Bonvoy member account. Benefit is not exclusive to Cards offered by American Express. Terms apply.
  • Enroll in Priority Pass™ Select, which offers unlimited airport lounge visits to over 1,200 lounges in over 130 countries, regardless of which carrier or class you are flying. This allows you to relax before or between flights. You can enjoy snacks, drinks, and internet access in a quiet, comfortable location.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on international purchases.
  • With Cell Phone Protection, you can be reimbursed, the lesser of, your repair or replacement costs following damage, such as a cracked screen, or theft for a maximum of $800 per claim when your cell phone line is listed on a wireless bill and the prior month's wireless bill was paid by an Eligible Card Account. A $50 deductible will apply to each approved claim with a limit of 2 approved claims per 12-month period. Additional terms and conditions apply. Coverage is provided by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.
  • $650 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Compare to Other Cards

ANNUAL FEE
$650
REGULAR APR
20.99%-29.99% Variable APR
Rates & Fees
INTRO APR
N/A
RECOMMENDED CREDIT SCORE
ANNUAL FEE
$95
REGULAR APR
21.49%-28.49% Variable APR
INTRO APR
N/A
RECOMMENDED CREDIT SCORE
ANNUAL FEE
$0
REGULAR APR
21.49%-28.49% Variable APR
INTRO APR
N/A
RECOMMENDED CREDIT SCORE
Get more smart money moves — straight to your inboxBecome a NerdWallet member, and we'll send you tailored articles we think you'll love.

Detailed review: Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card

As the most high-end member of the Marriott Bonvoy credit card family, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card offers Bonvoy devotees, frequent travelers and big spenders a selection of luxurious benefits. How this card compares with more down-to-earth options depends on how likely you’d be to take advantage of all the extras it provides.

The massive annual fee can be tough to budget for, but if you have the habit of extracting every last drop of value out of a premium travel rewards credit card, you’ll easily find ways to offset that yearly cost.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card: Basics

To view rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card, see this page.

Card type: Hotel.

Annual fee: $650.

New cardholder offer: Earn 185,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new Card to make $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

Ongoing rewards:

  • 6X points per $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.

  • 3X points per $1 spent at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines.

  • 2X points per $1 on all other purchases.

  • Terms apply.

The points you earn by using the credit card for Marriott hotels stays are "bonus" points. They are on top of the "base" points you earn for those stays by being a member of the Marriott Bonvoy program.

NerdWallet values Marriott points at 0.8 cent each. This is a baseline value, drawn from real-world data, not a maximized value. In other words, you should aim for award redemptions that offer 0.8 cent or more in value from your Marriott points.

Redemption options:

  • At Marriott Bonvoy hotels for free nights. This will be the most effective and valuable use of your points.

  • For flights or car rentals.

  • For travel by transferring points to multiple airline partners, usually at a 3:1 ratio (meaning 1 airline mile will cost you 3 Bonvoy points). For every 60,000 points you transfer, you’ll receive 5,000 bonus Marriott points.

  • Terms apply.

Foreign transaction fee: None.

Other benefits:

  • $300 in statement credits per calendar year, up to $25 per month, for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide.

  • Free Night Award (valued up to 85,000 points) every year after your account renewal month.

  • Platinum Elite status.

  • 25 elite night credits per year.

  • Fee credit for either Global Entry or TSA Precheck.

  • Priority Pass Select lounge membership (enrollment required).

  • Annual earned choice award (when you spend $60,000 in eligible purchases). Choose from 5 nightly upgrade awards, a free award night up to 85,000 points or a discount on a Marriott bed.

  • Up to a $100 property credit for qualifying charges at The Ritz-Carlton, Ritz-Carlton Reserve or St. Regis brands when you book direct using a special rate for a 2+ night stay.

  • Terms apply.

Benefits and perks

Generous ongoing rewards

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card doubles as a travel and dining card, earning 6X points per $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3X points per $1 spent at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines, and 2X points per $1 on everything else. Terms apply.

Valuable traveler-friendly extras

Points aside, the card's perks alone can make up for its annual fee, assuming you can use them:

  • Up to $300 in statement credits per calendar year (up to $25 per month) for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide.

  • A free night award each year (the booking must cost 85,000 points or less).

  • Up to a $100 property credit for qualifying charges at The Ritz-Carlton, Ritz-Carlton Reserve or St. Regis brands when you book direct using a special rate for a 2+ night stay.

  • Access to airport lounges for you and up to two guests with a Priority Pass Select membership when you enroll (ordinarily this starts at $99 per year).

  • Either one $100 statement credit every 4 years for the application fee for Global Entry or one $85 statement credit every 4.5 years for TSA Precheck.

  • Terms apply.

Instant elite status

Enjoy automatic Platinum Elite status, which gives you a 50% point bonus on eligible hotel purchases, along with things like room upgrades (including suites), extra late checkout, free breakfast and more. Terms apply. Marriott Bonvoy Platinum status can provide meaningful value for those who stay frequently at Marriott hotels.

Travel and purchase protections

Get reimbursement for nonrefundable travel costs if your trip is delayed or canceled for a covered reason. The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card also includes rental car insurance, a 24/7 global assistance hotline, and coverage if your baggage is lost, damaged or stolen. Terms apply.

Purchases you make with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card are covered for up to 90 days if they’re lost, stolen or damaged, or if the seller won’t let you return the item. Covered purchases are also eligible for an extended warranty. Terms apply.

If you damage your cell phone while traveling (or at home), the card gives some protections if you use it to pay your bill. You can be reimbursed for repair or replacement up to $800 per claim, up to two times per 12-month period (for a $50 deductible). Terms apply.

Drawbacks and considerations

A super-high annual fee

Any annual fee is worth notice, but $650 is impossible to ignore. If that’s a dealbreaker for you, other Marriott Bonvoy cards offer some of the same benefits at a lower cost. The $95-annual-fee Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card and the $0-annual-fee Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card offer solid ongoing rewards, for instance.

Here's how different Marriott Bonvoy credit cards compare:

Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card (from Chase, $0 annual fee)

  • Up to 14 Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.

  • 2 Bonvoy points for every $1 spent on other travel purchases (from airfare to taxis and trains).

  • 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

  • Receive 15 Elite Night Credits annually, qualifying you for Silver Elite Status. Restrictions apply.

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card (from Chase, $95 annual fee)

  • Up to 17 Bonvoy points per $1 spent at over 7,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.

  • 3 points per $1 on the first $6,000 spent in combined purchases each year on grocery stores, gas stations and dining.

  • 2 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

  • An additional Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.

  • Automatic Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year. Path to Gold Status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each account year.

  • 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year. 1 elite night credit toward elite status for every $5,000 you spend.

  • 6X points per $1 spent on participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.

  • 4X points per $1 spent on up to $15,000 in combined purchases per year at restaurants worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets.

  • 2X points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases.

  • 1,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points with each qualifying stay. Complimentary Gold Elite status.

  • A Free Night Award after making $15,000 in purchases per year for any hotel worth 50,000 points or less.

  • 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.

  • Terms apply.

Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful™ Card (from Chase, $250 annual fee)

  • 6 points per $1 spent on participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.

  • 4 points per $1 spent on up to $15,000 in combined purchases per year at restaurants worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets.

  • 2 points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases.

  • 1,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points with each qualifying stay. Complimentary Gold Elite status.

  • A Free Night Award after making $15,000 in purchases per year for any hotel worth 50,000 points or less.

  • 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.

  • 6X points per $1 spent at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.

  • 3X points per $1 spent at U.S. restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines.

  • 2X points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases.

  • One Free Night Award each year after card renewal for any stay at a redemption level of 85,000 points or less.

  • Automatic Platinum Elite status.

  • $300 statement credit for restaurant purchases (up to $25 per month).

  • Priority Pass Select membership (enrollment required).

  • Application fee credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry.

  • 25 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.

  • Terms apply.

Rewards are Bonvoy-centric

The main way to redeem your points is on free nights at Marriott Bonvoy properties. When you book four consecutive nights, you get a fifth night free. You can also use them to book airfare or car rentals, or transfer them to one of Marriott Bonvoy’s airline partners (typically at a rate of 3 points per mile). Hotel credit cards are more valuable if you consistently stay at the hotel brand’s properties. If you prefer the freedom to apply rewards to other hotel brands, or other types of travel expenses, consider a general travel rewards credit card.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers fanciness with flexibility. It comes with a $300 annual travel credit, travel protections, a statement credit for TSA Precheck/Global Entry/NEXUS, airport lounge access and more. When you redeem points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, your points are worth 50% more. Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. The annual fee is $550.

The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card has a lower annual fee, and it also offers a credit toward TSA Precheck or Global Entry, plus a rich sign-up bonus. You can redeem points for a wide variety of travel expenses, including airfare, hotels, trains, rental cars, limos, buses, cruises, cabs, travel agents and timeshares.

Credits are doled out monthly

While the card's annual $300 in statement credits help take a large bite out of the card's annual fee, there's a catch: you'll get them in $25 increments each month. You'll get statement credits for eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide, but you'll have to remember to use them. Previously, the card offered up to $300 in statement credits towards eligible Marriott purchases, which is easier for some Marriott travelers to utilize.

Alternate Pick: More flexibility
Similar high-end perks

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus, get a $300 annual travel credit, credit toward TSA Precheck or Global Entry, airport lounge access and more. Points are worth 50% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. The annual fee is $550.

How to decide if it's right for you

If you’re loyal to Marriott Bonvoy and plan to use many of the benefits the card offers, the super-high annual fee can absolutely be worth it. But if you’re not going to be able to enjoy everything the card offers, look elsewhere (check our list of best rewards credit cards).

Information related to the Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful™ Card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card.

To view rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card, see this page. To view rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card, see this page.

Methodology

NerdWallet reviews credit cards with an eye toward both the quantitative and qualitative features of a card. Quantitative features are those that boil down to dollars and cents, such as fees, interest rates, rewards (including earning rates and redemption values) and the cash value of benefits and perks. Qualitative factors are those that affect how easy or difficult it is for a typical cardholder to get good value from the card. They include such things as the ease of application, simplicity of the rewards structure, the likelihood of using certain features, and whether a card is well-suited to everyday use or is best reserved for specific purchases. Our star ratings serve as a general gauge of how each card compares with others in its class, but star ratings are intended to be just one consideration when a consumer is choosing a credit card. Learn how NerdWallet rates credit cards.

Frequently asked questions

The card charges a $650 annual fee, but also offers additional benefits that can help offset that cost. Ultimately, the more loyal you are to Marriott Bonvoy and the more likely you are to enjoy all or most of the card’s perks, the more valuable the card becomes for you.

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card requires good to excellent credit, corresponding with a FICO score of 690 to 850.

There are five consumer Marriott Bonvoy credit cards: the Marriott Bonvoy Bold® Credit Card, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card, the Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Express® Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Bountiful™ Card. There’s also a small-business card, the Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card.

NerdWallet values Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.8 cent each, making 100,000 points worth $700.

Marriott no longer publishes an award chart based on hotel categories. Free nights can start at 5,000 for an off-peak booking at basic property, and luxury hotels in peak-season can cost 100,000 points or more per night.

About the author

NerdWallet Pixel